In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Alyssa's Passport and Visa Fiasco

Two weeks ago we were called at 4:00 PM by Alyssa's missionary agency and informed that the Visa application submitted on time for Alyssa to go to India needed to be immediately notarized and overnight mailed to the outsourcing agency (a sudden change to the India Visa application process). Funny that India outsources passport visas to an American company, but I digress. Impossible to get a notary in the late afternoon and delivered to FedEx in a rural area, JD told them it would be done first thing the next day, a Friday. Throwing aside our other demands, we attended to it first thing Friday morning.

Alyssa left for Memphis to be with her grandparents a week before her scheduled departure from Houston, and when I checked with the mission organization on Friday, her visa and passport had not arrived nor did they have an update on where it was. On Monday, three days ago, JD called the Indian embassy to find out that Alyssa's passport was sitting on a desk unapproved. He immediately drove to Washington DC to try to intervene and get a visa approved, or at a minimum recover Alyssa's passport and FedEx it to Houston before Alyssa's departure to Nepal on Wednesday. If we did that, however, her Indian portion of the trip would be void and she would have had to return to the US when her trip-mates made the move from Nepal to India in three weeks. The lady at the consular office was described as a suitable stand in for the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld, and JD watched the interactions between her and others before engaging her. He found out they just received the passport over the weekend, since the holding facility obviously saw no reason to rush on anything they do despite the obvious date at the top of the paperwork, and India's policy was 5-7 days of processing time with no expedited visas except for Indian citizens with emergencies. After multiple discussions with the Visa Nazi, JD was invited to come back the next day, Tuesday,  because there was a "100% no chance to get it approved today." No assurance that it would be processed, just an invitation for a possible approval.

Much prayer went out for Alyssa to find favor with the embassy to get an approved visa and recover the passport in time to send it overnight to Houston before her flight out. JD returned the next day and the Visa Nazi turned into a smiling helpful consular agent. She still yelled at other folks bending the rules or sneaking in after the office hours were over (a whole two hours a day from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM), but she was kind to JD and he walked out with a passport and India visa stamp at 1:45 PM, a product of a one-day turnaround, non-expedited visa approval and over a full hour after they closed for the day. JD then drove into Georgetown to the closest FEDEX Store and shipped it off to a family that we had yet to speak to, but Alyssa had arranged for them to bring it to the airport with their daughter who was also going on the trip. Any delay on the part of FedEx would have cost Alyssa to miss the whole mission trip at this point.

We are so, so thankful to God for making this happen; it looked completely hopeless on Monday morning. I also told Alyssa that if she ever doubted how important she was to her Dad, she could reflect on this, because he took two days of vacation and did everything in his power to help her be able to board that plane. At this point, we have no doubt that she is supposed to be heading to Nepal (she should arrive any hour) and are excited to see what God has in store for her there.

Honestly, this has been one of the clearest times I have seen God answer prayer and provide for us when it looked impossible - I heard the Indian embassy worker on day one telling JD that there was zero hope since she wasn't an Indian citizen (can't fool them on that one) and she didn't have an in country family crisis. At one point, when JD just kept telling her Alyssa's story and how much we needed her help, she just looked at him and said, "Why does she even want to go to India?" Maybe it helped a bit when he could honestly say that she was going to work in leper colonies.

Alyssa (left) and some of her trip friends

 Glory to God! I have to quickly add that the final FedEx transaction was $95; and the day before the expense, a last minute donor sent Alyssa a $100 check. While we obviously wouldn't have let the overnight FedEx expenses stand in her way after a year of work, it was a sweet reminder that God handled all the details - even the ones that we didn't pray for!

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